Helicopter crashes while surveying wildfire in New Zealand

Maitai Bay

Two people are missing after a helicopter that was being used to survey a wildfire in the Northland of New Zealand (map) crashed Wednesday night, November 30. The two people onboard, believed to be a Department of Conservation staff member and long-time far North pilot, were on a reconnaissance flight over a fire. The helicopter was last heard from at approximately 11 p.m. and was found the next morning by the crew on a fishing trawler in seven to ten meters of water a few hundred meters off shore. It is unknown if the two people were still in the helicopter which is owned by Salt Air, of Kerikeri, and believed to be a light single engine Eurocopter Squirrel.

Maitai Bay
The area of the fire and the crash of the helicopter.

According to Stuff.co.nz, the fire had burned about 148 acres and is controlled on the southern side but was still spreading on the northern perimeter. Three homes are reportedly destroyed.

Some of the residents fled from the fire into the sea and were rescued by boat. This also happened about a week ago in Australia when residents who refused to evacuate took refuge in the ocean and were transported by jet ski out to a waiting rescue boat.

Our sincere condolences go out to the families and co-workers.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.